The ACB with Honora Lee (2012), by Kate De Goldi

Drawings by Gregory O’Brien.

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 19.4.

The ACB with Honora Lee

De Goldi - ACBPerry collects dead and dying bumblebees; she is fascinated by them; she “was thinking of becoming a zoologist when she grew up” (8). Bumblebees, however, are only one of Perry’s fascinations: she loves most aspects of the world around her, drawing the things and people that interest her in a style that reflects her feelings about them. She often annoys her loving but too-busy professional parents with her questions and her childishly logical view of the world. She is unconventional, she learns, revelling in the new word. She is, in fact, “wrong in all the right ways,” to quote a popular song, and young readers will love her and her approach to her world.

Perry’s life is over-scheduled, but when her Music and Movement teacher strains her back and cancels class for the semester, Thursdays become free. Perry comes up with the solution: she will visit her grandmother at Santa Lucia, the care-home with a community elderly people who intrigue Perry. Perry, with her unconventional ways, appreciates the residents’ eccentricities as much as they appreciate her attention and understanding. Together, to complete a school assignment, Perry, her grandmother, Honora Lee, and their friends, create an abecedary: but “It’s not really an ABC … It’s an ADV, so far. Gran does it out of order” (46).

Perry and her “accomplices” take the reader though the process of learning language and a multitude of disconnected facts, at that same time as they develop their patience, acceptance, and affection. The ACB with Honora Lee is written in an engaging child’s voice, and the illustrations effectively express the tangential ideas that form in Perry’s head. The one improvement would be if the illustrations mirrored the text’s description of Perry’s art; her ideas and interpretations are unique, and we would like to see them on the page. Overall, though, The ACB with Honora Lee reveals strongly how a both the child’s and the elderly person’s alternative view of the world can enrich the lives of those around them—if only others take the time to listen.

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